Omaha, Nebraska

I had a great time in Nebraska.

The Down Under bar hosts open night on Wednesdays in downtown Omaha. It’s a great way to get heard and feel the pulse of the local music scene. Aly Peeler is the woman who runs the event and she is awesome. We both share a mutual admiration for John Craigie who seems to have played everywhere in America winning hearts and selling baby onesies.

On Thursday I played a house show at chez Holly Lukasiewicz. Playing house concerts can be one of the greatest highs as a performer because of the unparalleled intimacy you have with the people listening. A group of people who have dedicated time to commune and watch music is a blessing from on high, because let me tell ya that ain’t always the case. I got to split the bill with Omaha’s own Brikwondo comprised of Dylan Goodman and Brian Curtis.  They sound like Wilco meets Pavement and accomplish a very complex sound for a duo. It was a great evening, Holly is an artist and truly made a magic event happen AND she supplied hot cider and moon pies, and I was gifted the left overs. Two weeks later I am still finding wrappers in my car….

On Friday morning I played at a Kundalini yoga class. I learned some mantras at a Steve Gold workshop held at Breitenbush in 2016 and it’s been a really awesome addition to styles or venues I can play. Om namah shivaya, “Oh Salutations to the auspicious one.” Its mostly instrumental music with interspersed vocal mantras and “My sweet Lord” during the rest period.

Friday night I played at the Apollon art space in the Vinton district of Omaha. I would definitely play there again and recommend anyone who is passing through to check out the art and theatre that they put on during the year.

Saturday I took off for a church convention in Missouri.

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Kundalini Yoga class with Abby Phoenix
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Dylan, Holly, me, Brian at California Bar for some late night Karaoke
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Black Water, Missouri convention with the Nichols

Roaming Wyoming

Jake Martini

Roamed through Wyoming Monday and Tuesday. Interesting state that I haven’t spent much time in. High elevation, constantly feels like my nose is gonna bleed. Eugene is 450′ above sea level, the LOWEST point in Wyoming is 3,099′.  Nice hot springs in Saratoga, free to the public. Majorly hot with animated bubbles coming up from the earths core, this was an awesome way to relax after driving all day.  I stayed eight miles up the road  at the North Platte River access campground, elevation 6,791,’ needless to say, once the sun went down all the jackets, hats and gloves came out.

When I pulled in to the campground a car was leaving and a Jack Russell terrier was running after it. The dog was absolutely distraught and I felt terrible because I didn’t know how to help him, he wouldn’t eat nor did he want to be patted. Abandoned, and…

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Roaming Wyoming

Roamed through Wyoming Monday and Tuesday. Interesting state that I haven’t spent much time in. High elevation, constantly feels like my nose is gonna bleed. Eugene is 450′ above sea level, the LOWEST point in Wyoming is 3,099′.  Nice hot springs in Saratoga, free to the public. Majorly hot with animated bubbles coming up from the earths core, this was an awesome way to relax after driving all day.  I stayed eight miles up the road  at the North Platte River access campground, elevation 6,791,’ needless to say, once the sun went down all the jackets, hats and gloves came out.

When I pulled in to the campground a car was leaving and a Jack Russell terrier was running after it. The dog was absolutely distraught and I felt terrible because I didn’t know how to help him, he wouldn’t eat nor did he want to be patted. Abandoned, and trembling he was making the sounds of a shrieking child, extremely hair-raising I must say.  There was a couple camped across the grove and they agreed to take the orphan dog to the humane society in Rawlins in the morning. I went down to the river with my guitar and the Harvest moon rising. It was almost bright enough to read on the rocks by the North Platte river. All the while I could hear the cries of the orphan terrier coming from the grove of trees.

There is nothing better than being camped in a remote area and to hear a car pull up on the gravel and shine it’s brights on your tent. I was waiting for the banjos to start dueling when I heard a distraught woman yelling “have you seen a dog? oh my god please tell me you’ve seen him.”

They had stopped to fix a drink on the side of the road to Centennial when they realized their aged dog was absent. The couple looked like Gimli and Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus. The dog, Moai, was so freaked out it kept running further into the wooded area surrounding the camp ground. Fear is like a lost terrier in the woods at night, love is a labrador.

Bizarre experiences at high elevations. The poor pup found and Bette and Gimli off to the Misty Mountains, I pumped up my air mattress again because the air had condensed in the cold. No more than ten minutes after they had gone, I heard mountain lions screaming in that blood curdling way they do. Me thinks that Moai is the Luckiest Jack Russell terrier in all of Wyoming.

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On this Harvest moon
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Saratoga mineral hot springs
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Sunset on the North Platte River

 

Noise in Boise

On Friday I played in Boise at Dwellers on Overland with Jake Freeman and Rider Soran. We each played two sets. Jake Freeman is quickly becoming a pedal steel wizard and talented songwriter. His music would fit well in a Jim Jarmusch flick like Dead Man, very ghosty and western. Rider Soran also blew me away with  his songwriting and covers of Towns Van Zandt songs like “Tecumseh Valley.” He also had a sweet kick drum set up that he’d built from a suitcase very reminiscent of Shakey Graves. Jake and Rider played some songs together and it sounds like dream country, especially their version of “Dead Flowers.” I was standing in the hallway by the bathroom listening to them play and I felt like I was in a bar in the wild west.

Here’s a lesson on the difference between a lap steel and pedal steel for anyone who might be confused, as I know I have been.  A lap steel is a guitar with the strings raised over the neck so the frets become point of reference and non interfering with a slide. A pedal steel is a lap steel with added pedals and knee levers, allowing the performer to play scales without moving the bar and also to push the pedals while striking a chord, making passing notes slur or bend up into harmony with existing notes. It makes one of the most beautiful sounds I know of in music and I am always impressed by people who can wrap their brains around using hands, knees, and feet at the same time. It makes patting your head while rubbing your stomach seem unimaginative. On my new album, Larry Wayte blessed a handful of the songs with pedal steel guitar, and it really makes them shine in a new light.

On Saturday I was honored to  play on a porch for cottage boutique called Virgo Darling that has recently opened on Hays street in downtown Boise. It was an awesome afternoon and totally spontaneous. That’s one of the greatest treats of being on the road, saying yes to things and letting the universe unfold. Boise is like sunny portland, bad traffic included.

Long story short, I like Idaho. Always have. There is something open faced and honest about it. I like that the interstate speed limit is 80 mph, I like the sunshine. Tonight I’m heading down to Lava Hot springs to get rejuvenated before trekking into Wyoming.

Here’s a link to Virgo Darling,  cool vintage clothes and crafted jewelry and it can all be ordered online, so if you’re not in Boise don’t trip :

https://www.virgodarling.com/

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Left to right : Rider Soran, Jake Freeman, Jake Martini
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Porch jams with my fellow earth signs.

John Day One

Last night I played at the 1188 Brew Pub on Main in John Day, Oregon and was very kindly treated and well fed. This is a cool spot that I’d recommend anyone driving through eastern Oregon make a pit stop at, it’s kind of an oasis.. I played a two hour set of originals and covers. Playing for two hours seems daunting but I’d actually prefer it to a forty five minute set. For the last year this has been one of my main sources of growth and inspiration musically, it makes my skin grow thicker. Two hours of singing and playing also allows me to try out a bunch of songs and styles, and if I feel like the first one flops, I have one hour and fifty five minutes to right the ship. And most importantly it helps me see that all things are changing and passing, I can have every emotion known to man in two hours and not get attached to any one of them.

John Day is a super small town. It’s sunny, and for the most part people seem friendly. They have a great coffee shop on Main street with awesome bagel sandwiches. It’s nice to have a chance to do some computer work that I’ve been lagging on from pressure of moving. Publishing new songs and uploading music for digital distribution takes a certain amount of time and bandwidth.

I stayed at the Dreamers Lodge last night. Last room available. It’s elk hunting season and it’s hard to find camping sites or rooms. I ran into Gary Battles this morning, the guy who helped get me the gig at the 1188 Brew Pub when he saw me play in Eugene. He was in full hunting gear and wished me well on my voyage east. Also a songwriter and performer, he lived in Nashville in the 80’s and spent a lot of time at the blood bank, as he said many musicians did at that time because it was hard to make a living. I told him I would sell blood but last I checked they won’t accept mine because I lived in the UK in 1995 during the  Mad Cow pandemic. This explains. I’m a nut.

 

 

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First show in John Day at 1188 Brew Pub

Soaring Heart

It’s been a pleasure knowing and working with my fellow Taurean Geoffrey Mays at Soaring Heart studios for the past 15 years. He’s truly been like a godfather and guitar guru who has helped me grow as a musician and human being, and I will miss having late night jam sessions with him. Last night we worked on a project that’s been on the to do list, an albumof songs my grandfather George Jacob Martini liked to sing. We tracked “Spanish Cavalier,” “Red River Valley,” “Streets of Laredo,” “Hard Times,” “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and “Battle hymn of the Republic.” I think we got some good takes and I look forward to getting some mixes that I can work on from Nashville. Ultimately we’d like to have a CD for my grandma’s 90th birthday in January, we’ll probably press 100 copies, so let me know if you’d like one. Also a big shout out to Jesse Greenlee who has been an amazing drummer to work with the past 6 months. Extremely talented with time and style this guy is already a legend and I feel fortunate to have worked with him.

 

 

 

September 11th 2018

Tonights show was hosted by my dear friend Blaine, at his delightful manor in north Eugene. I am grateful to have so many people in my life who believe in me and my vision, because there are days when I don’t. He was kind enough to open his home and cook an amazing spread, including bacon wrapped carrots which are surprisingly (not surprisingly, because anything with bacon is good) delicious. It also happened to be the 11th  birthday of Kylie, the daughter of Blaine’s girlfriend as well as the 17th anniversary of a very sad day in American history. I sang mostly songs from my new album which will be ready to purchase next week and a few covers including Stephen Foster’s 1854 parlor song “Hard Times,” which felt fitting for the day, let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears, while we sup sorrow with the poor. There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears, oh hard times, hard times come again no more. IMG_7464(1)

September 5th 2018

I’ve got to say, I won the mom lottery. My mom taught me to play guitar and gave me a deep appreciation for music and art. Last week I got the privilege of playing an intimate house concert with her for a handful of our close friends. It was sentimental for many reasons, the  first being because  I’m moving to Nashville on the 20th to further pursue a career in music and secondly, fall equinox will be here on the 22nd and leaves are dying, Summer is ending. My mom is an incredible songwriter and her songs take the listener on a journey of heart felt experience. One of my favorite moments of the evening was harmonizing a Donovan classic, “Catch the Wind.” What a beautiful song. I can see why he was penned as the Scotland’s answer to Bob Dylan. I also can’t sing this song without thinking of when I sang it for my girlfriend in high school and told her that I wrote it…..I fessed up later.

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July 6th 2018

I had a great time playing at LaVelle winery tonight. I feel blessed to play music for people. Wineries are a great place to try out playing a variety of styles. 20180706_203044